Channa and Urad Dal Mixed (Bengal Gram and Black Gram Dals)
Chana and Urad Dal Mixed
Lentils can be cooked in many combinations. This particular one is a popular one in North Indian homes, one of my favourites. It tastes better with black urad dal where skin has not been washed off, but can be made with skinless urad dal too.
If you eat lentils regularly, I would recommend buying a pressure cooker. It makes cooking them much quicker and easier. The water required and cooking times given here is average for a pressure cooker, but do remember that there are many variants in cooking. For example, quality of the lentil, softness of water, whether the dal was soaked beforehand (soaked dals take a little less time to cook), the intensity of heat and the efficiency of your pressure cooker. It will get easier as you cook more dals. Remember that if undercooked, you can cook a dal some more but you can't do much with an overcooked dal. It does not taste bad if overcooked, only it doesn't look so good! Serves 4
Edited May 2014
New pictures added September 2018
1/2 cup skinless or washed chana dal (split Bengal gram)
1/2 cup urad dal (split black gram) with skin (can be cooked with skinless urad dal too)
5 cups water (use more if not using pressure cooker)
Salt to taste (1-1 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tbsp. dry fenugreek leaves (optional)
For basic tarka (for other types of tarka, see notes):
2-3 tbsp. ghee or sunflower oil. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A large pinch of asafoetida or hing powder
2-3 whole red chillies broken up (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 tsp. chilli powder (adjust amount to taste)
Wash both dals together well. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain the water off before cooking.
Cooking in Pressure cooker
Place dals in a pressure cooker with measured water, salt and turmeric and bring to full pressure.
Turn heat down to medium and cook under pressure for 10-15 minutes.
Cool before opening.
Cooking without pressure cooker:
Soaking the dal before cooking also reduces cooking time. You will need more water. Start with 6 cups and adjust as needed.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, bring to boil and simmer briskly until dal is tender. If the dal begins to look too thick and dry, you will need to add more hot water during the cooking process.
Dals, when ready, should be soft but not mushy.
Transfer to a serving bowl.
Tarka or tempering:
Heat ghee or oil in a tarka ladle or a small pan. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.
Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder and let the seeds start to splutter.
Add whole chillies and chilli powder, stir with a small spoon, add quickly (chillies burn very fast) to the cooked dal and cover with a lid immediately. This will infuse the flavours into the dal and stop the dal from splashing out during tempering.
Other variations of Tarka or tempering:
a. After spluttering the cumin/mustard seeds, add a little grated ginger and/or garlic to the hot oil, fry until beginning to turn golden brown. Add chillies and chilli powder. Now add to the dal. b. After spluttering the cumin/mustard seeds, add one chopped onion, 1 tsp. each of grated ginger and garlic, and fry until browned. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp. curry powder or sambhar powder. Fry a little longer and add to dal. You can leave the tomatoes out if you wish.
Also see Dal Selection.
Overcooked or leftover dal can be added to roti or chapatti flour, when making a dough. This makes delicious roti and paratha. You may need to add a little more salt.
The amount of dal required per person depends on whether you are serving the dal with roti or with rice. Rice requires more dal.